Pessimism and Optimism …………..and Experience

It’s sort of fashion that one categorizes whole human race into two types. There are many crazy categorizations like ‘There are only two types of people in the world –people who like Sachin Tendulkar and people who don’t like cricket’. But there are many sane categorizations. One which I really want to talk about is ‘There are only two type of people in the world – optimists and pessimists’. I really liked it as this categorization is based on thinking approach unlike others. But then I came across a quote on Internet i.e. ‘They say in the Middle East a pessimist is simply an optimist with experience’ by Ehud Barak, Israeli Statesman. Even though the quote was region specific but it’s second part is really worth a thought.


Till now, I was considering optimists and pessimists are two Different types but the mentioned quote suggests that people do cross the side and that to in opposite direction. And the thing which makes them cross the road was EXPERIENCE. It does really make me think over this. Does experience compel someone to switch side from optimism to pessimism?

One can simply say that optimism is the side which is heavily promoted. Right from the school days, optimism is promoted as it is seen as foundation of courage. While doing any courageous act, one should understand what is possible and that’s where optimism got support.  Self-help books, inspirational movies and inspirational videos on YouTube keep on injecting a dose of optimisms in people. And there is no problem with that. Many inventions or ideas which transformed the world are because of positive approach and optimism.  Youth should be filled with optimists. But as per Ehud Barak, as they get experience of the real world, they switch the side.
Interestingly two psychologists David Dunning and Justin Kruger at Cornell University observed something which they called a cognitive bias among people. Their study showed that people mistakenly assessing their ability as much higher than it really is. This is called as ‘Dunning Kruger Effect’.  And Dunning Kruger Diagram possibly gives us the answer to the question with which we were started.


To make a connection between Dunning Kruger Effect and the quote, just take a case of a young boy who is surrounded by all positive thoughts and is an optimist, but unaware of real world hurdles. Because of the optimism, he might be aiming something big and presumes his path to success as painless. In most of the cases, such nascent mind might end up assessing its ability incorrectly. After facing real life problems, if the boy didn’t manage to reach desired goal, he will get disappointed. He might try again and again but if still he faces failure then slowly his confidence level will also go down with it. And eventually he might become a pessimist. Because a continuous disappointment will force him to became a pessimist. He will expect the worse so that he will never be disappointed.

Be an optimist or a pessimist, a person always think about future because of the dissatisfaction with present reality. Because of bloated optimism, people get into the mindset of Optimism Bias (As Tali Sharot, a professor of Cognitive neuroscience at UCL, call it so). The bias pushes one to keep irrational expectations. But one’s experience with failures and disappointments makes him become a pessimist. Experience does play a role in this……..



12 thoughts on “Pessimism and Optimism …………..and Experience

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  1. Very nice article. I appreciate your study. But I still feel, we learn a lot from experience and mistakes. Turning to pessimism is not the solution.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Agree with you, Vedant. Here, I tried to analyse why very optimistic people turn towards pessimism, Turning to pessimism is surely not an option, after all hope is good thing.


  2. People generally try to classify themselves as one of the 2 types without realising that its all a matter of perception n situation. And experience as u said.
    Optimistic people may speak of how wonderful things are and how good things are going to turn out. They view pessimistic people as negative nancies with low standards and expectations.
    Pessimistics on the other hand speak of how things might turn out to be worse n good stuff can twist any moment and end up bad. They view optimists as people who might believe in fairy tales n think they live in wonderland and they dont know how cruel this world can be sometimes, accidents can happen or what bad stuff future holds for them.
    But both the sides unintentionally switch over not only based on experience, but also on current situation.
    Like during my finals, i was sure im not gonna score well, n i wont be able to complete the syllabus on time, etc., but i was optimistic about my future career, how im gonna find a good job, earn a lot of money n marry some hot chick.
    Now im inclined towards Nihilism, which is old but less know area of philosophy and despised by both, optimists and pessimists. Its when you think life has no purpose, everything that happens is inherently meaningless, n being optimist or pessimist or realist doesn’t really matter.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Good to read such philosophical stuff from you… many of our age can relate with some things you mentioned there. 🙂

    Regarding Dunning Kruger effect, I vaguely remember some quote by socretes, ‘You need to be smart enough to know that you might not be smart enough… and thats when you become wise!’
    and ultimately WISDOME wins over your over-rated (or under-rated) abilities in long run of life.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Nice what way you are looking towards life is definitely matters but some surrounding situations makes you down to pessimistic..

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Splendid article Vishwjeet. While reading it I was trying to connect it with daily life and with my life line analysis n its connected. First article I was scrolling down slowly by reading each line.. When you know nothing you are a optimist but as a time spent with experience you should be realistic rather to turn into pessimist… Not fully optimistic, not pessimist but be my point of view.

    Liked by 1 person

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